Lord Darzi is to resign as a health minister but to retain a role as a government advisor. Downing Street said he wanted to give up his ministerial duties to spend more time "on his clinical role and academic research".
Lord Darzi was one of a number of non-politicians brought into government by Gordon Brown when he first became Prime Minister. He is still chair of surgery at Imperial College, London, and holds a number of academic and clinical posts.
As Sir Ara Darzi, he led a review of London’s NHS that proposed a radical reorganisation of its health services, with GP, community and some hospital services refocused on polyclinics and hospital services consolidated into specialist centres.
Shortly after the review was published in 2007, he was elevated to the Lords as Baron Darzi of Denham and asked to lead a Next Stage Review of the NHS.
The review’s final report, which was published to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the health service last year, focused on improving efficiency and quality, giving a major role to new information services for NHS staff and patients.
A “progress report” published last week identified a number of new services that had been developed as a result, including the NHS Evidence website and the clinical “dashboards” being developed by System C for the NHS Connecting for Health. The progress report also promised more mobile technology for community staff.
Earlier this year, Lord Darzi was also responsible for launching a new programme to drive innovation in the NHS.
In a statement, Downing Street said Lord Darzi had made an "outstanding contribution" as a health minister and that he would be taking up a number of new roles.
"He will take on a new role as a health and life sciences ambassador for the government and will chair a new NHS Global forum to promote the NHS and the UK’s life-sciences industry around the world," it said. "Lord Darzi will also advise on health reforms in both the NHS and our global public health."
However, shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley told the Press Association last night that he was not surprised Lord Darzi was quitting the government, since his focus on quality was “increasingly at odds with the Brownite fixation with command and control.”